By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
MILL CREEK — Back in October of 2008, Jackson and Kamiak faced off in a showdown of top Western Conference boys tennis teams. Kamiak prevailed that day, handing the Timberwolves a disappointing 4-3 defeat.
It was a disappointment that has yet to be repeated.
Since that loss to Kamiak five years ago, Jackson has run off 81 consecutive Wesco victories, spanning all or part of six seasons. The winning streak is expected to reach 82 this afternoon when the Timberwolves meet Cascade in their regular-season finale.
“It’s been remarkable,” said Jackson coach David Hutt, who is in his 15th season. “It’s really weird to think that in five years, the kids coming through here have never lost.”
Peter Cung, a Jackson senior and three-time state qualifier, was in seventh grade when the streak started with the final two matches of 2008. It had already reached 18 wins in a row when he arrived as a freshman in the fall of 2010.
“(The streak) was something we wanted to continue,” Cung said. “And now to have continued it for (another) four years is a pretty good achievement.”
“It’s a pretty big deal,” agreed junior Ben Mietzner, the team’s No. 1 singles player and a state qualifier last season. “We all want to keep it going.”
The streak is hardly the result of close calls and lucky bounces. Since that loss to Kamiak in 2008, the T-wolves have dominated almost every opponent. Their combined match scores in the ensuing years have been 98-14 in 2009, 102-10 in 2010, 98-14 in 2011, 108-4 a year ago and 95-7 to date this year (one match was shortened by rain with Jackson winning 4-0).
In that stretch, Jackson has escaped with 4-3 victories just three times — vs. Edmonds-Woodway in 2009 and 2010, and vs. Kamiak in 2011. Otherwise the match scores have been 5-2, 6-1 or, most commonly, 7-0.
Since Hutt became the team’s head coach in 1999, the program’s Wesco record is an astonishing 212-27. In the spring of 2011, which followed the 2010 fall season, Jackson won the state Class 4A state championship led by Michael Chamerski and Mitch Williamson, who placed first and fifth in singles respectively.
Jackson’s tennis success is explained largely by its location in Mill Creek, an affluent community with plenty of outdoor courts and tennis-minded families. The program also benefits from the proximity of two top private tennis clubs — the Mill Creek Tennis Club and the Columbia Athletic Club in south Everett.
As a result, Hutt said, “we’ve had a lot of good tennis players come through in the last 10 years. And a lot of them have set the bar (at a high level).”
At some point, of course, the streak is bound to end. When that happens, and whether it is this afternoon, next season or somewhere down the road, “we won’t really know what to do,” Mietzner said. “I don’t think it will come to us right away because we really haven’t experienced the losing feeling.”
For Hutt, the streak “just means that we’ve had a lot of quality players, and they’ve started a tradition and an expectation of high quality tennis and competition. So I guess I just try to take myself out of the picture because it’s really about the kids.
“I think they have a lot of pride (in the streak),” he said. “They understand that they’ve achieved something that might not happen again in our Wesco league for another 15 or 20 years. Or it may never happen again at all.”